Riots and Reason

Actively engaged in the discussion…

tressiemc

I truly believe that to be a good teacher, a decent writer or a perfunctory scholar one has to concede the limits of evidence, reason, and rationality.

It is no wonder I believe that. Evidence, reason and rationality can rarely explain my place in this world. I know the limits even as I try to stretch them. It is either futile or the human experience or, I suspect, it is both.

For months I have participated and supported the ground work of activists, scholars, teachers, preachers, parents, young people, old people, and people people in Ferguson, MO. My contribution amounts to little more than nil on the grand scale of things. Mostly, I have hoped that people would persist.

It is an unreasonable hope.

Representatives of the State, of a public that includes black people who are also a public, were defiant when they announced the grand jury results of Michael…

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“To All My Facebook Friends” (2)

This makes me think of all my LAL teaching colleagues…

Before I Became a Great Writer

Aternatively,
We could unplug ourselves
Off Facebook
And start writing
In journals.
Alternatively,
We could write
Each other letters
And make frequent trips
To the post office.
It will take too much of our time,
Of course, but our correspondence
Will be longer
And the pleasure of conversing
Will be drawn out.
Anyway, a conversation
Via social media
Mediated by computer monitors
And profile photos
Isn’t really much of a
Conversation, is it?
Anyway, I want to see your
Handwriting, feel the strokes
Of your pen with my fingers,
And smell the ink and paper.
You don’t have to write and sound
Like Jane Austen, although that would
Be great, as well.
You can write like a cardiologist,
I wouldn’t mind.
There are nuances in our handwriting,
You know.
Alternatively,
We could lie on roof tops
And gaze at the distant galaxies
And talk about our dreams.
Alternatively,
We could…

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On Ferguson – The System Isn’t Broken, It Was Built This Way

The Belle Jar

I have an uncle who was a cop.

His kids, my cousins, were around my age and when we visited our family in Québec every summer I practically lived at their house. As soon as we got to my grandmother’s house, all rumpled and grumpy from our eight hour drive, I would start dialling my cousins’ number on her beige rotary phone. I spent the whole damn school year waiting for summer, and my time with my cousins, to come; we wrote each other letters all through the dreary winter, hatching plans for new summer exploits. Life with my cousins – swimming in their pool, family barbecues, playing hide-and-seek in my grandmother’s mammoth hedge at twilight – was lightyears better than my boring life in Ontario.

Pretty much every summer my uncle would, at some point, take us to visit the police station. He would pretend that we were criminals and…

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Plagiarism Needs a Better Definition

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There’s this parable that economists always tell.

Your car breaks down and you take it to the mechanic. He opens the hood and looks at your engine for a few seconds. Then he takes out a little hammer and taps it on the top. Suddenly it works again.

‘That’ll be $100,’ he says.
‘But all you did was make a little tap!’ you protest.
‘The tap, that’s $1,’ he says. ‘Knowing where to tap, that’s $99.’

Like everyone else who writes for a living, I’ve been reading the Fareed Zakaria plagiarism allegations with a knot in my stomach.

Here’s what we know so far:

In 2012, Zakaria blatantly yoinked a Jill Lepore (love her!) paragraph in an article he wrote about gun control. He got busted and he apologized.

Dude has written for legit every publication, so his current employer and his alma maters investigated his old work for copy-pastage. They…

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Women vs. the Internet Trolls: A Reading List

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Longreads

I am the exception, not the rule; I am lucky. The writing I produce garners little to no (negative) attention. When it does, people usually correct my grammar or spelling. This is okay with me, because it’s constructive. To my knowledge, no one has called me ugly, or stupid, or any number of cruel epithets or slurs. This is privilege; I am lucky. But I am scared to put my name to controversial opinions, or to voice my own opinion at all. My tweets are innocuous quips or retweets of people far more articulate than I am. I hide behind other people’s words.

I scan Roxane Gay’s Twitter feed about once a day; she is one of my favorite writers. I don’t want to miss a thing. I know she must be exhausted from engaging with trolls, but she’s logical and courteous. She says, “God bless you” or “Live in the…

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Immigration and America

We will consider using this for Gear Up Civics on November 15.  As we study the impact of citizenship on our daily lives, we must be cognizant of the struggle of those immigrants who hope to become citizens.

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Immigrantsonboat

A few days ago, my longtime friend, Rodolfo Ramirez, became an American citizen. I was honored to be able to travel by train to New Haven, CT to witness his naturalization ceremony, along with his partner, John, and his dear friends, Maria, Gitte, Marge and Roberto. I have witnessed this wonderful, loving and talented man transition over the years from a young and magnetic coworker in Mexico City, to a wizened, mature and passionate teacher and resident of Connecticut, to a lifelong friend and confidant – and full-fledged citizen of the United States, to boot!

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The train ride through New England, and the purpose for the journey, awakened the ghosts of the original American patriots who lived, defended and died here. It made me reflective of my own sense of what patriotism feels like, and what role immigration plays in the spirit of national pride.

Upon arrival at the grand, column-flanked…

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